The Head of the League of Nations and Western Department of the British Foreign Office ( Smith ) to the American First Secretary of Embassy in Great Britain ( Cox )27

No. W3334/24/28

My Dear Cox: I was on the point of writing to Atherton again on the subject of the electric light concession at Tangier when I received your private and confidential letter of March 21st, for which very many thanks.

The majority of the Committee of Control have, our Consul-General at Tangier has reported, proved to be in favour of insistence upon public tender. The French member, however, at an animated meeting of the Committee on February 23rd, refused to accept a proposal put forward by his Italian colleague. The latter suggested that the Committee should declare themselves ready to maintain their conciliatory attitude regarding this particular concession subject to the prior adoption of a motion that “In conformity with treaty stipulations, concessions cannot be accorded to [in] Tangier except as a result of adjudication”. Monsieur de Witasse would give no reasons for his refusal to accept this suggestion; but, somewhat unexpectedly, proposed an alternative motion which, after some discussion, was ultimately adopted by all present, in the following terms:—

“Le Comité de Contrôle, dont la majorité a exprimé l’avis que, aux termes des Traités, les concessions à Tanger doivent nécessairement faire l’objet d’une adjudication publique, accepte néanmoins d’examiner la concession d’électricite sans que sa décision puisse être invoquée à un titre quelconque comme constituant un précédent.”28

We have examined this formula and have come to the conclusion that it is satisfactory to His Majesty’s Government in so far as the concession at issue is concerned. The Secretary of State still thinks, however, that it is most important that the United States Government should if possible be associated with the acceptance of the formula. Mr. Gurney is, accordingly, being instructed to endeavour to secure that effect is given to your suggestion.

Yours sincerely,

C. Howard Smith
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Ambassador in Great Britain in his despatch No. 1794, March 31; received April 9.
  2. Translation: “The Committee of Control, the majority of which has expressed the opinion that, in conformity with treaty stipulations, concessions cannot be accorded in Tangier except as a result of public adjudication, nevertheless agrees to examine the electricity concession without letting its decision be invoked through any claim whatsoever as constituting a precedent.”